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How much do coffee farm laborers get paid?

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

The Gomez / Pineda Family - Río Colorado in the Intibuća Sector of Honduras

"It is a heartbreaking reality that many coffee farmers are not paid fairly for their work. Despite the importance of their work in the coffee production chain, these workers often receive payments that do not correspond to the effort and dedication they invest in their work."

Elias Assaf


In 2023 the coffee market global revenue amounted to US$88 billion dollars and is expected to grow by 4% in 2024. For a product that is so universally enjoyed and makes a lot of people money, you would think the laborers who produce it would be appreciated and compensated well. But who knows anything about who they are and how they are doing? Having been exposed to the coffee industry in Honduras and Colombia I have learned otherwise. As I have toured coffee farms and been exposed to the life of the common coffee worker it has been shocking and disillusioning. My exposure to coffee farm laborers is that in general, those laborers are important to the farm owners but of little if any concern to the people who are buying the coffee, exporting, importing, and retailing the coffee, and as we as consumers sip our morning cup of coffee, the majority of us are unaware of what life is like for those who make it possible to get that precious liquid into our hands. For many reasons, it is critical for the future of coffee to start caring about its workers. The bottom line is coffee buyers, exporters, importers, roasters, retailers and coffee drinkers need to be willing to pay the farmers more money for their coffee and for the farmers who benefit to then pay their laborers a better wage. The current focus on farmers acquiring various certifications to improve their farms and products without compensating them with better prices is not working. I think the solution needs to be

focused on paying farmers a higher price for their coffee which can then lead to laborers being paid a better wage. A result of low pay is that coffee workers live in poverty unable to provide for their families. Add to that the low prices paid to farmers for their coffee causes farmers to struggle to survive and you have a situation where coffee is in crisis. Farmers are having to consider whether they can survive financially and the workers consider leaving many of whom migrate looking for a better life leaving the coffee industry with a problem they are ignoring.

 

As the director of Coffee Homes, I recently asked one of our volunteers in Honduras to send me information on 5 more families that are in need of a home. While the information about how much coffee workers are paid varies from country to country, region to region, and farm to farm the following information is typical for the workers in Honduras and Colombia.


The Gomez / Pineda Family - Río Colorado in the Intibuća Sector of Honduras

The Gomez family pictured to the left is a typical coffee worker family in the Intibuća sector of Honduras that is in need of a home. From their bio, the following information was provided for their income. Notice what this family working together makes in wages. During the busiest season (November - February) their combined weekly income is $113.66 or 1.26 an hour while working in very difficult mountainous and climate conditions. That is working 6 days a week and 8+, hours a day. Without help this family will never be able to afford a decent home. Families like this are in survival mode.


Notes from the field. - The Gomez / Pineda Family

During the coffee harvest time, they usually visit the farms of Don Amado Turcios and the farm of Doña Marta Domínguez. For their work, they receive a payment of L1.50 per pound or L150 per quintal. María says that in good harvest time, she manages to cut a quintal and receives L900 a week, Maximino 120 pounds and receives L1000 a week and Heiner 100 pounds who manages to accumulate L900 a week, the other children stay at home taking care of each other.

The first cuts begin in the month of November but the best cuts are from December 20 to February 15. The money they make goes toward buying fertilizer for the corn and bean plantings for the winter time, and to buy clothes, shoes, supplies for school children, uniforms, food, soap, etc.

When the harvest is over Maximo and Maria work for private individuals on farms cleaning and receive a payment of L150 each while their children are going to school.

 

This is where COFFEE HOMES comes in...


Coffee Homes is a non-profit organization dedicated to building homes for coffee farm workers in Honduras, Colombia and beyond. We rely on the generosity of individuals like you to fund our important work. By making a donation to Coffeehomes.org, you can directly impact the lives of coffee farm workers and their families, and help them to realize their dream of providing a home for their family.

Your donation will go towards the construction of new homes for coffee farm workers, including materials, labor, and other associated costs. Our organization ensures that the homes are built to high standards and that they are designed to meet the specific needs of the workers and their families. This includes access to water, sanitation facilities, and other basic necessities.

By donating to Coffeehomes.org, you will be making a tangible difference in the lives of coffee farm workers. You will be helping to provide them with a safe and secure place to call home, and in doing so, you will be supporting the future of sustainable coffee production. If you are a coffee lover or a concerned individual who wants to make a difference, I encourage you to consider making a donation. Every little bit helps, and together, we can build a better future for coffee farm workers and their families. https://give.cornerstone.cc/coffeehome or Scan the QR code to donate.


Additional Resources

In Honduras, approximately 110,000 families rely on coffee production for their livelihoods. Many of these families live in rural areas and lack access to basic services such as clean water, electricity, and sanitation. As a result, they often live in substandard housing conditions, which can have negative impacts on their health and well-being.


In Colombia, coffee production is also a critical part of the economy, providing employment for over 500,000 families. However, many coffee worker families in Colombia face similar challenges to those in Honduras, with limited access to basic services and inadequate housing conditions.





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